Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: She's Got Issues

She's Got Issues: Seriously good news for stressed out, secretly scared control freaks like us

If you want a look in the mirror, this is the book to read. With in-chapter lists, author Nicole Unice asks probing questions that help you assess your issues. Chapter endings (called Space Bars) offer a prayer, a journaling exercise and questions for group discussion.

Unice is right on the money in the issues she discusses. Who of us has not struggled with maintaining control of our lives (and those of our family members)? Who has not felt insecure or unforgiving? Who has not compared herself to others? Or felt anger or fear? These are issues to which any woman can relate.

But Unice not only defines the issues, she offers hope that by God’s grace they may be overcome. The only thing better than working through this book on your own would be to work through it with others and learn what has worked for them. Last night I met with a dozen women for a Bible study based on this book's DVD curriculum. Each session includes a 5-minute testimony of a woman with an "issue" and 15 minutes of Nicole's teaching. We'll take time for discussion too. And desserts. What Bible study is complete without dessert? Anyone in the Millersburg, PA-area is welcome to join us. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Book Review: The Wisdom of the Seasons

If you want a book that helps you consider the state of your congregation and how God is moving in it, this is the book for you. Author Charles M. Olsen suggests that congregational life follows cyclical patterns of letting go, naming (or recognizing) God’s Presence and taking hold (or moving forward). At first it seems simplistic, but as Olsen likens those patterns to the church year itself and then to various phases of congregational life, you find it quite plausible. And not only plausible, but helpful in analyzing where your congregation is and how you might move to another stage.

According to Olsen, church life is Trinitarian, revolving around the seasons of Easter (letting go, as Jesus did), Christmas (recognizing God) and Pentecost (moving on in the Spirit. He offers stories of various congregations that have recognized where they needed to let go, recognized God’s Hand at work and then moved on to in a fresh direction. These stories are quite interesting, eye-opening and motivational.

The book also deals with the importance of sharing our stories because in so doing we discover how others perceive events and truths emerge that might otherwise be overlooked. Closing pages suggest ways the book might be useful to an individual or a congregation. I bought the book to better acquaint myself with church seasons, and I got more than I bargained for. I will now be more aware of the significance of each season and how we as a congregation are experiencing it. A good read.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Eight Reasons to Warm a Pew

Our older son Ted and his family lighting an Advent wreath at their church.

A friend once declined an invitation to attend church with me. She said she was very close to God, but she didn’t need to attend church to commune with Him. I understand. I must admit that at times I feel closer to God while communing with Him at home than I do while worshipping in church. But I also know that I need to fellowship with other Christians. Here’s why:

  1. Faith is affirmed. As I sing a hymns, I realize that Christians around the world are singing the same words of faith. I am not alone. God is not a figment of my imagination. Some of the best minds in history have wrestled with the scriptures and found them to be true.

  1. Faith is informed. As I listen to sermons, attend Sunday school and hear testimonies, I learn about God and recognize His Spirit at work in our world.

  1. Service is valued. The church offers a place to use my talents, skills and spiritual gifts. We all want to do great things for God; a local congregation offers the best place to start, even if it means doing small things for God in a great way. Ecclesiastes 4:9 (NLT) states: “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one.” Sure we can serve God alone; but we accomplish more together.

  1. Worship is magnified. There’s something about praying with others, singing with others, even listening with others that makes me feel part of something bigger. My praise increases as I join others in worship.

  1. Relationships are enhanced. Jesus commands us to love one another (John 13:35). It’s important to rub shoulders with other Christians so that we get to know them and they get to know us.

  1. Witness is strengthened. I am able to re-enter the Monday morning work-a-day world strengthened in my faith and motivated to make a difference for Christ. My presence in a congregation shows others that I am serious about my faith.

  1. Families are solidified. We sing “Bind us together, Lord,” and our hearts are knit as a congregation and as a family. We shape our children’s souls as we walk the journey of faith together. Even the youngest learns from us that church is a special place.

  1. Sunday becomes special. By beginning my week with worship, I set the day apart to concentrate on God. Remember we are commanded to keep the Sabbath holy; God blesses us as we honor him on the first day of the week.

Hope to see you in church this Sunday. Leave a comment to share which of these reasons (or what other reason) is important to you in attending church.


P. S. If you need a book to guide you in connecting with God every day of the week, visit our website or to order Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides, also available in e-book format. And thanks to those of you who have told us our devotional book has blessed your lives.

Our younger son Terry and family upon his graduation from seminary.